Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife reportedly plan on hosting large indoor holiday parties, despite a notice issued by State Department leadership to employees last week advising that “any non-mission critical events” should be held virtually, according to the Washington Post on Wednesday.
However, U.S. event planners were reportedly told that the State Department leadership’s guidance does not apply to the holiday parties hosted by the Pompeos on the 8th floor of the State Department.
The holiday events involve hundreds of invited guests, food and drinks — which starkly contradict the Trump administration’s health experts who’ve warned against large gathering amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 270,000 Americans thus far.
According to the Post, invites to a Dec. 15 event titled “Diplomacy at Home for the Holidays” in the Benjamin Franklin Room, the department’s flagship reception space, have already been sent to 900 people.
A State Department spokesman told the Post that “we plan to fully enforce social distancing measures at this reception, and face coverings are mandatory for admittance.”
The Post reported that the spokesman didn’t respond when asked about how he can expect attendees to wear masks at an event that serves food and drinks, nor did he detail how the department would enforce social distancing.
“All proper food and beverage safety precautions will be taken by catering services and staff — all will wear gloves and masks and any food or beverage will be served individually,” the spokesman told the Post.
The Pompeos also plan to host two other holiday parties, according to the Post.
Pompeo will host a reception for the Washington Diplomatic Corps at the State Department on Dec. 16, with invites having gone out to about 180 foreign ambassadors. Attendees can bring their spouses, according to the Post.
A State Department spokesman told the Post that “attendance is optional based on the comfort of each chief of mission” and that the event will be “broken into two separate receptions to minimize the number of guests in the Diplomatic Reception Rooms at one time.”
Another State Department holiday party will be hosted by the department’s chief of protocol Cam Henderson, which will involve tours of both the White House and the Blair House (the President’s guest house that is managed by the State Department.)
The White House is also reportedly going all out by hosting indoor holiday parties. On Tuesday, the Post reported that President Trump and first lady Melania Trump are hellbent on hosting their final holiday hurrah in the White House as many supporters of the Trump administration who plan to attend the events hold a skeptical view of coronavirus restrictions.
Last month, Surgeon General Jerome Adams reminded the White House that health safety measures apply to everyone ahead of the first lady’s indoors “holiday reception.”
The health official pointed to the CDC’s guidelines on holiday festivities that urge people to keep the gatherings small and limited to those living in the same household.
“These apply to the White House, they apply to the American people. They apply to everyone,” Adams said.